Sarah Sanders is teaching us a thing or two about the definition of confounding. As in, bewildering, astonishing, baffling, perplexing, mystifying or -- just plain confusing.
Keli Goff, who writes for The Daily Beast, told me, "Someday 100 Ph.D. theses will be written on Sarah Sanders."
It's difficult for many women to understand how a woman can so glibly defend men who are accused of sexual harassment.
It's one thing to say your boss -- Donald Trump -- denies the allegations leveled against him by at least 15 women, but quite another to come up with a tortured, yet clever, way to discount Trump's female accusers. "The people of this country, at a decisive election, supported President Trump," Sanders said this week. "And we feel like these allegations have been answered through that process."
Even more confounding to her critics, Sanders has also praised Trump for his behavior toward her. "Certainly, as a woman myself, I've never felt anything but treated with the highest level of respect and been empowered to do my job. And I think that's what I've seen the President do, day in and day out, since we've been here and during the campaign."
Sanders' verbal gymnastics enrage and astound liberal women. "She's amazing. Amazing how she doesn't even flinch when she has to say these incredibly absurd things," Democratic Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman told me on HLN.
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski has called for Sanders to resign unless she "apologizes" for Trump "being a sexist pig" over his suggestive tweet about Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. As you know by now, Trump tweeted that Gillibrand "would do anything" for campaign donations.
I don't think Sanders will resign, Mika, but I find it fascinating how women are reacting to Sanders' moxie (if you lean Trump) or her sometimes convoluted answers -- like a verbal game of "Twister" (if you prefer factual press briefings).
It's become hysterical. And not in a funny way.
Which brings me to Chelsea Handler. The feminist activist and entertainer seems befuddled when it comes to criticizing a woman who has a job only two other women have held in the history of this country: Dee Dee Myers and Dana Perino.
Handler has not only called Sanders a "trollop," but has portrayed her as a hick who is just plain dumb.
Handler tweeted a video of a faux Sanders in a "makeup tutorial." The comedian portraying Sanders talks in a stereotypical Southern accent and is slathering her face with excessive amounts of makeup.
"I'm gonna go ahead and get this moisturizer and slather it on," faux Sanders says. Later, in the video faux Sanders paints her lips "Republican red" and says, "The more lipstick you use, the younger you look. In fact, the other day Roy Moore tried to pick me up."
The schtick is not funny or clever. It's just plain mean. And it invalidates every sound argument Handler might have. Although, oddly, Sanders' father, former Gov. Mike Huckabee, seems just as confounded about his daughter as the hysterical, liberal left.
Huckabee rushed to his daughter's defense on "Fox and Friends," but instead of extolling her prowess at what must be a difficult job, he brought up abortion and parenting.
"The sad thing about it is she (Handler) boasts about two abortions she had at 16," Huckabee said. "I think she's jealous of my daughter. My daughter has a husband who loves her and is wonderful to her. My daughter has three delightful children. ... She goes to church and lives a life Chelsea Handler has never known."
In other words, Handler, a bitter, godless baby-killer should shut up about this daughter/wife/mother.
It's like "Mean Girls" meets "Footloose," that '80s movie featuring an uptight local minister who insisted everyone abide by '50s-style norms. However, none of this rhetoric makes it any easier to understand why Sanders, a mother of three, lies for a man who defended Roy Moore, an accused child molester.
And if I were to try to address this seeming dissonance, I would do it without denigrating Sanders' appearance or extolling her family values -- because, frankly, who cares?
I believe we're way overthinking things. Sanders has a job to do, and she's doing it more effectively, at least in her boss' mind, than her predecessor, Sean Spicer.
Or maybe she knows that former press secretaries -- even failed secretaries -- have a rich afterlife. After all, Spicer was not only granted a fellowship at Harvard, but is now writing a book and hitting the lucrative speaking circuit.
See, it pays to be confounding.
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